NEVER SIGN A MEDICAL RELEASE
Tzoya, I understand why you posted this, but being a doctor myself, I want you to know that I have been able to significantly help children and families by getting permission to speak with certain school professionals. The kids I've helped fall primarily under the ADD/ADHD categories, and believe you me, when you have a doctor who is truly on your side in terms of your child's best interests, that phone call can make ALOT of difference...
That having been said, unfortunately, most docs don't have the time or inclination to get involved with the schools, so your advice is sound.
Now, "NEVER" is not a good word to use in general, as there are exceptions to every rule. Parents must sign a release to allow records review from their insurance company, for example, to get coverage or to get into a particular practice. The way I handle privacy is I only release what is pertinent and necessary to the specific question or situation.
HIPAA is protecting many people, but it is not a guarantee...I have found that it has kept me from getting information that is urgent to a particular patient's care...I have also seen records released that included pages with BRIGHT RED STAMPS on them that say "This is confidential psychiatric and/or mental health information that CANNOT be released with a standard release form. The patient must sign a form SPECIFICALLY allowing the release of this information."
PRIVACY issues are extremely complex, so when in doubt, go with Tzoya's advice and don't sign the release...Just remember that there ARE times when signing a release MAY be in your child's best interests!I was the idiot who signed the release that was misused. Tzoya is right. Get the info yourself and hand deliver it. Being that I am the privacy officer for our non-prof I just have to say...the acronym is HIPAA! (not hippa) Hi I say go with the above advice..do not sign a release...Recently my son's principal wanted to talki to Justin's doctor over the phone..I said no..Can we give you a paper with a short paragraph on it describing his behavior of late?" I took that in myself..it turned out to be two pages! I want to have control in my sons life..maybe I am wrong..but I trust no one! I can count on one hand woh the people are who are there to help my son...and it doesn't even fill up one hand !!!!My past experiences with school and regional center have left me distrustful, and I am always brought to tears when I hear of the good people on shows,i.e. Oprah, who truly care. So proceed with caution.
And I would agree with AndrewsMommy, never say never.
I have and will continue to sign releases...because I find it necessary. There is nothing that I have to hide about my child, and his health far outweighs what I might want to "keep" from them.
At least in working with the school staff - access to health records, and being able to call his doctors is and has been imperative.
So I guess I'm the exception....I want open communication, so I sign the release.I am so thankful this is one of the very first threads I read on this board after my son's diagnosis.
One of the very first things our school district said to me was, (In a sacharine sweet voice) "Oh, just give us a release and we'll call his Dev. Ped. for the report... Or you can bring us a copy... But we know how busy you are, and a release is easier".
I made a copy, and blacked out any info. I didn't want the school to see.
I made the mistake of signing a release this current school year and I have been regretting this..This was my daughters first year of school and the school asked for release of medical records/plus conference call with docs..There were decisions made that were without my consent and put my daughter through testing that was done before to verify same results as before.as some others posted..ask for written request from school for records and provide the records to themselves..never sign an open consent and letting medical records flow from doctor to school directly.
Hi...i'm sorry to be naive about all of this . But I guess I am confused about what the school is doing with these medical files once they have them...I guess I missed the original post. Is it that the school just isn't as careful with their files and ppl who shouldn't be reading them are, or are they misusing the information, and if so, how?
I'm one of those ppl who I guess is too trusting, because the school did ask me to sign a release and I did! What do I need to watch out for now...I really hope this doesn't come back and bite me somehow!
Sorry again, but thanks for any help!
I am not saying there are no circumstances under which we should grant a release. But those circumstances should be rare. There is no reason the school cannot ask us to get information from them. And a doctor can certainly be asked to attend a CSE by phone if you want him to participate (some doctors are willing to do this). If there are certain circumstances under which you believe you WANT the school to have direct access to records that you cannot provide yourself, you may sign a release that is VERY SPECIFIC. What records, what dates, etc. AND ONLY THOSE RECORDS WILL BE RELEASED. HIPAA (thanks CAMUSA) is for records that remain in the hands of the doctors. Once the records get into the hands of the school, the protection is under FERPA -- Family Education Right to Privacy Act. They MUST have written permission from you to share ANY records that they maintain. Personal, handwritten notes on the part of school personnel are not included if those notes are used as a memory jogger for the person who took those notes and they are NEVER seen by anyone else. If they get typed up by another party, they come under FERPA. If they remain in the files of the person who took those notes and are never shared by anyone, they are not included under FERPA and you can't demand to see them. If they are EVER shared, even for a second, you can.
I am certainly not suggesting that anyone hear keep things secret. It's often quite beneficial for the doctor and school to understand one another. However, giving the school a release takes you OUT of the controlling position. I'd make darned sure that there is no other way to inform the school before I'd give them direct contact without my being present. That way, the parent is always in control and the information won't get misconstrued.That's the point. Who knows what the school is doing or might do or might say the doctor said? We parents must be in control of what is done to our kids and how ANY information is interpreted. See Case's post, above, for just a little taste of what can happen. Information about our children can be twisted. And, believe me, the school will twist ANYTHING in their favor. Even the nicest IEP Teams are under pressure to give as little as is feasible, legally, and also to separate kids who might cause great difficulty in the mainstream. They'll use any evidence to do either of these things that they can get their hands on. They will "read" what they see to THEIR advantage, not to your child's advantage. It is simple to give the schools the information you agree they need. It's hard to take back information that is none of their business.
I have nothing to hide either. That does not mean that I will ever violate my son't right to privacy again by giving the school open access to his private medical information again. They treat him educationally. If they NEED something from his Dr. they don't need to bypass me in the process. They will have to let me know and I can get it for them or if they NEED to talk to one of his Drs. then I, as my son's mother and protector will make that decision and I will be a party to all conversations that anyone in the school has about my son to his private Drs.
If it is an emergency then they should be calling 911. If not there is always time for me call myself.
It is my understanding that after info is released by the medical facility that it is not covered by hipaa anymore. The school has another set of rules but anyone who has to treat your child at the school has access to those records.
Is this right? Anyone know?
I don't know about medical releases to schools and the law...But medical releases between medical facilities...docs, pharmacies, diagnostic centers, urgent cares, hospitals, etc. are all covered by HIPAA.
Zayzer, don't misunderstand, I agree with you...But I wanted to point out that there are situations where signing a release may actually be very beneficial and possibly even save you a major hassle. Of course I am assuming that you, the parent, make the decision, and that the information is used for a specific reason that you approve of.
I admit that I'm an idealist and tend to not like cynicism...But I am also a realist, and when it comes to our children, we must do whatever it takes to protect them...On another thread someone mentioned having signed a medical release under the impression that it would be used only to get immunization information and the school district used it to access the child's ENTIRE medical file. First, it IS possible to sign a limited release, but I would never even do that. Medical information is private and no doctor can release it to anyone but you without a subpeona under HIPPA, the health right to privacy law. If a school has a legitimate need for some kind of medical record or you CHOOSE to give them some kind of medical record, do it yourself. Have them give you their written request, go yourself to the doctor and get a copy and then give it to the school, KEep a copy of everything you do give to the school. Also, NEVER agree to give the school a release to speak with your child's doctor over the phone or in person, either. If you want to include them in a conversation for some reason, BE THERE WITH THEM. I dont have anything to hide...but...was told by my dr office that they dont do mental health...referals because...its nobody's business....when someone requests your dr records...They have no right to your mental health records and...you dont have to disclose any mental health issues...That being said...if I felt that it would help vannah...I would submit any and all records...But YOU would submit that records. That's fine. It's often VERY beneficial. I am NOT advocating hiding anything or being ashamed of anything or trying to keep things secret. I'm saying that WE need to remain in control. Would you give the school your ATM PIN if they asked for a PTA donation?
I have been very particular about releases I have signed. Usually, they are releases permitting the advocate to speak to the school (which may include medical information such as the diagnosis my son has been given, although the advocate is obviously not a doctor), or for a counselor to speak to the school on limited matters. The limited matters are specified on the release. I haven't signed a release for the school system to speak to my son's psychiatrist. Usually, I stay away from permitting release of medical/mental health information kept by those who diagnose and treat. But I may allow limited release of info from those who provide play therapy, for instance, to discuss methods used. The professionals I deal with tend to be very cautious about what they would tell the school system, because they are hip to the game, so to speak. And they know I'm pretty protective as well (and they're on board with that).
That said, I agree that when in doubt, don't release. Or only release to your advantage.I think that a simply worded non-judgmental letter is in order for that elementary school's principal and PTA president. Written in the context of trying to be helpful and constructive and trying to protect the school from unnecessary litigation may be the way to go...Amie -- You KEEP yourself in the driver's seat by the way you handle it. What I wanted to bring to people's attention by starting this thread is that giving a release without being on top of it is DANGEROUS. The schools won't let you look at your own child's file with having a school professional at your side "to interpret and answer questions." We parents should expect at least that degree of care in giving out our children's medical information. Clearly, you have established a good system for sharing info. I think it's vital to share info. However, my preferred way of doing this is to ask what the school wants and to get it for them myself. If someone in the school wants to speak with the doctor, I allow it but in my presence (in person or by conference call). I also want to be informed about what the doctor is recommending to the school from the horse's mouth, not through the filter of the person who received the recommendation. That way I'M fully informed, too. It's not about trust. It's about control of information and about being fully informed oneself. If your method is working for you and your child, that's great. You ARE in control of the info at this point. You didn't give blanket permission. I see too many parents "trust" the school and put no restrictions on their access to medical info. To me, that's dangerous. Schools have lots of hidden agendas and who knows how they will try to use the info.All I can say is I agree with both CAMusa and Andrews Mommy sometimes Docs can be beneficial in talking to the school not only that but HIPPA is all about privacy. When you sign those forms you have the right to set a time limit in which the school or other facilities can have access to the records you can also designate who they talk to and what records they have access to. Not only that but you should have to sign releases on both ends that includes the school and the doctors office. I do this from time to time to coordinate between school therapy and outside therapy. It has actually been very beneficial because then the therapist are all on the same wave lengths of what we are working on. I usually give them a release for 2 weeks and specify what they can look at or can not and who they can talk to as well as making them send me the documented notes of the conversation.
Actually I am one who signs the releases. However, my son is in a day treatment school. They have team meetings all the time. Children's Hospital has a whole building on the campus of the school and my son's PDOC and his social worker are in that building while the classrooms are in the next building over.
For me, YMMV , I could not possibly shuttle all those records back and forth. Without that team of people (teacher, aides, OT, PT, ST, Adapted PE, PDOC, Social Worker, and school nurse) we'd of been sunk.
I do not, however, release his regular medical records. I see no need for that honestly (plus the majority they wouldn't know how to read anyway--mostly cardiac, neurology, etc stuff!)
And, as a Registrar (University), its my job to train and assure everyone follows FERPA requirements. Tzoya is right in what she has said completely. As for the PTA workers that are volunteers there is an area of FERPA that addresses workers like this (for the university it would be student workers)---they can have access to records for the business purpose of what they do. That does NOT mean they have access to all records and, indeed, they shouldn't be looking at anything not DIRECTLY related to whatever they are volunteering for. As far as gossip about students----this is absolutely CLEARLY a FERPA violation. I would seriously take this up with the Principal first (and the board second if you don't get action). The principal should well know FERPA---violations of this nature should be taken completely seriously. Those volunteers should have had FERPA training when they started---but I will say most PTA type or regular school/parent volunteers never get any instruction in FERPA.
YEEK certainly never expected to comment on FERPA here! Get enough of it all day long
GOOD points all!
I hate to say it, but after one of my sons spent 5 weeks in a NICU, I don't even trust doctors. They have hidden agendas also. Like doing tests "To see what's there". Now all information we give out is "Need to know". I hate it, but we have been hurt once too many times.
JMHO here but...
At my local elementary school, lots of parents are there all the time doing volunteer stuff. They know far more about the children that attend school there then they have any right or reason to. They also gossip. Some teachers put students names on a list on the board that get pulled for services. Some teachers leave private data out on their desks. The health clerk is not a licensed nurse, she does not close the door when calling parents about their children. I have personally seen and heard all of this take place. The problem with signing a blanket release is that people can and do take liberties with the information.